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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Marguerite and Julien de Ravalet

The story of Marguerite and Julien de Ravalet was quite famous in France in its time, and is still well known there. In the rest of the world, though, they are completely unknown. I myself was surprised that I had never heard of them, until I did research and found out that 99% of everything online and in print about them is in French. Making exact sense of the story has been difficult, since the ages of those involved during various events are different everywhere I find them. I could only find one English-language site which discusses the story in full.

Marguerite and Julien were two of eleven siblings born to the landed Ravalet family at the end of the Renaissance. The time period was a chaotic one, the culmination of religious and political conflict between the Catholics and Calvinists of France, who fought bloody battles and attempted assassinations all during the Ravalets' lives.

Marguerite and Julien grew up on the Ravalet estate in Tourlaville, northern France, and from a very early age they were extremely close. As they grew up and became even closer, their parents decided that it was a problem. They separated them by sending Julien off to boarding school. He didn't return until years later.

The Ravalet chateau

Their parents married Marguerite off to the tax collector, Jean Lefebvre, who was much, much older than her. (She was only 13 or 14 at the time.) By all accounts it was a very unhappy marriage. Eventually she couldn't take it anymore, and she left him and went home. Julien was there when she returned. Some time after, Marguerite became pregnant, and she fled home to avoid retribution.

Julien seems to have given his father the impressions that he would go and find Marguerite to bring her back. Instead, when he found her they absconded to Paris. When he found out, Jean Lefebvre (Marguerite's husband) went to the royal authorities and demanded that the two be charged with adultery and incest. They were arrested in Paris and thrown in prison. During their trial they were found guilty on both counts, and sentenced to death.

Over the course of this ordeal, word got around about the de Ravalet siblings and they became famous. Many people were sympathetic toward them, and their father personally begged King Henri IV to pardon them. King Henri explained that because Marguerite was married and had committed adultery, he couldn't publicly justify pardoning them. The only concession he could give was to allow for Marguerite and Julien to have a proper Christian burial, and not be thrown into the public mass graves.

Marguerite gave birth to her baby in prison, and gave the baby to her parents, to care for it in her absence. Shortly after, she and Julien were publicly decapitated. Their tombstone read:
Ci gisent le frère et la sœur. Passant ne t'informe pas de la cause de leur mort, mais passe et prie Dieu pour leur âmes.
[Here lie the brother and the sister. Passerby, search not the cause of their death, but pass and pray to God for their souls.]
After their death, the siblings became symbols in France of brave and tragic love. Paintings were made depicting them, and plays were written about them. Recently a modern retelling has come out which has reignited interest in their story: Marguerite & Julien. You can watch it here.

Edit: Bonus! It grossed out a New York Times film critic! I like it even more now!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

There are plenty of people out there open to change

This is from a while ago on Tumblr, but it's worth reposting here. I responded to one of Full Marriage Equality's posts, and the result was I pleasantly open debate with someone on the ethics of banning consanguinamory.

Let’s take a look at the arguments of someone who is concerned that “not everyone okay with consensual incest is kidding.” Because I’m not just “okay” with. I strongly support the rights of consenting adults to be together and consanguinamorous relationships are some of the most beautiful I have personally witnessed. And no, I’m not kidding.

You know, the “consanguinamory is dysfunctional” argument never seems to apply outside of consanguinamory. If we’re discriminating against siblings because of their “dysfunctional” relationship, why aren’t we doing that with non-related people in dysfunctional relationships? I have yet to see anyone propose that we take those in codependent, emotionally abusive relationships and throw them in jail for a few decades.
It’s culturally taboo, so I’m uncomfortable with incest…I need to look at research behind it, but I’m always pro humans at least considering acceptance of alternative lifestyles.

If you do also do some googling, I challenge you too completely accept it for 30 seconds before you analyze data to counter this arguement. (Like, how often are the r(x) abusive compared to not? How would our society differentiate between abuse, rape, and an emotional love expressed physically (something we already struggle with, and this would certainly blur a few shaded lines)? Would we make age gaps? How much of our disdain is taboo, which was once held for the LGBT community? I think if we tackle issues pragmatically then it can lower the chances of us becoming bigoted asses. And, in fact, a lot of my initial qualms against it could have been homophobic or racist or mysoginistic in nature as well.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Another Woman Denied Her Rights

From Full Marriage Equality:
I'd say my childhood was pretty average really, good bits and bad bits as any normal family. There was a lot of arguing and hostility between my parents and they really should have had a divorce because it often made a bad atmosphere for a day or two after an argument. On the whole, they were normal parents except for their marital problems. I always spent more time with my dad than with my mum because my mum and I never really got along all that well; a personality clash I guess. It was a shame, but you cannot force a person to like you and get along with you.